Author Topic: Anatta, anyone here?  (Read 2592 times)

Offline IntelligentDesire

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Anatta, anyone here?
« on: September 27, 2016, 07:38:29 am »
I have come across the rumor that Buddhists try to lose themselves. Say it ain't so. If you don't declare you have a self, who will do it for you?

Did anyone here get dissuaded of their identity? What kind of persuasive voodoo did they use on you? I am here to help, I certainly am myself and I won't let anything trick me out of me. I just need to know what sorts of arguments deprived you of your beloved.
« Last Edit: September 27, 2016, 07:58:35 pm by IntelligentDesire »

Offline zafrogzen

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Re: Anatta, anyone here?
« Reply #1 on: September 27, 2016, 04:29:27 pm »
My first formal meditation training was with Shunryu Suzuki in the 60's and later with Kobun, Robert Aitken and many other teachers (mainly zen). However, I've spent the most time practicing on my own, which is all I do now. I'm living in a rather isolated area so I miss connecting with other practitioners. Despite my interest in zen I've made an effort to remain secular. You can visit my website at http://www.frogzen.com

Offline SheepamusPrime

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Re: Anatta, anyone here?
« Reply #2 on: September 27, 2016, 06:00:27 pm »
I have come across the rumor that Buddhists try to lose themselves.

Assuming there is a self. It is not losing the self, it's losing the idea of self. Don't assume I exists.


Say it ain't so.

Again, not trying to lose self. This assumes self exists. In reality, it does, but as much as the five aggregates.


Did anyone here get dissuaded of their identity? What kind of persuasive voodoo did they use on you? I am here to help, I certainly am myself and I won't let any old Asian trickery fool me.

I'm going to assume this post is sarcasm, but if not, here we go. I feel less burdened by letting go of my identity. Teams do not work together by having each person thinking "I" (literally) have the best outcome. The second you perceive such a thought, you have fallen into your own perpetual cycle of suffering: Birth of suffering, death of suffering. "I" has nothing to do with this argument. If you were going to help us, you wouldn't include any form of racism or blatant disregard for Buddhism as a philosophy or religion. I see you posted about Anatta, if you hope to actually pose a debate, an admin would delete your post and you can start fresh.

Offline IntelligentDesire

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Re: Anatta, anyone here?
« Reply #3 on: September 27, 2016, 07:20:25 pm »
Here's my take from awhile back --

http://www.frogzen.com/meditations/meditation-on-emptiness/


Hello, I read your essay.

I wonder what is "hit" by the rose you smell, this contact of scent, who does it hit? What is it that prefers the immediacy of sensations to thoughts? What is hurt by the shifting and conditional regard given by others, what judges that the self must be build on that regard and judges that self to be a house of sand? What is that which worries about "crazy, self-centered thoughts", but has chosen the direction to use meditation practice to deal with these threats to your own comfort?

You say you are thoughts, for instance, but thoughts didn't make your website anymore than keystrokes make this post. A will to preserve and share your words may have persevered through all the painful contact of mental labor of how to do this or make it look like that.

Have you not chosen a direction, persistent past immediacy and in to the future, that you declare there is no self and follows through with Buddhist practice. Does this not constitute your will to a direction?   

But a different direction could have seen that sensations make contact, and have found that the subject hit is you. A different direction could have found that immediacy has no value without survival of that immediacy. This direction could have regarded yourself as substantiality that isn't empty, the proof being mapped out by the contact made by thoughts and sensations and the content of everything that has happened. That is a lot of contact over unending expanses of immediacy. A lover of oneself, not a passive lover of emptiness, but a contact lover of oneself, would view that painful contact as what has expressed your person. A contact lover, who views love as a contact sport, and won't be satisfied without the true view one sees of oneself through directions taken through that brutal contact of unsatisfying otherness.

You said that the self as tossed about and defined by the regard of others made oneself a house of sand. Empty as all hell, you are right!
 
But hold on! What if I took myself as my own other? My regard never wavers, I never leave me, and there are no conditions. I am my own beloved, and I won't accept an empty immediacy for myself, I would never make such a husk of my lover. I have made contact and persevere and I direct. My direction through this most unpleasant contact of utter otherness from the past and present, this brute contact with other that will continue to an extent in the future, this is the whole of myself drawn in to expression. I am all of worth and will not accept anything other than myself for my beloved, who deserves all of worth by my own unconditional regard.

All roses and immediacy life wither to the utter extent of meagerness if one denies oneself. You praise a void, emptiness. With such an alternative presented, why would you accept your current direction and wonder at it and praise it? Do you really escape unpleasant contact by suppressing the direction to keep your identity (these thoughts of yourself you talk about)?


Offline SheepamusPrime

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Re: Anatta, anyone here?
« Reply #4 on: September 27, 2016, 07:39:21 pm »
Deleted.
« Last Edit: September 27, 2016, 07:43:36 pm by SheepamusPrime »

Offline IntelligentDesire

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Re: Anatta, anyone here?
« Reply #5 on: September 27, 2016, 07:57:33 pm »
Quote
I'm going to assume this post is sarcasm, but if not, here we go. I feel less burdened by letting go of my identity. Teams do not work together by having each person thinking "I" (literally) have the best outcome. The second you perceive such a thought, you have fallen into your own perpetual cycle of suffering: Birth of suffering, death of suffering. "I" has nothing to do with this argument. If you were going to help us, you wouldn't include any form of racism or blatant disregard for Buddhism as a philosophy or religion. I see you posted about Anatta, if you hope to actually pose a debate, an admin would delete your post and you can start fresh.

Hello SheepamusPrime. You chose not to take me too seriously by assuming I was sarcastic. I can see why you did, but it was a choice that could have been something else. It seems strange for a not-self (which is what exactly, an emptiness or a no one?) to have such preferences. So are you saying that you have no identity or that you are taking a stance on the expression of it? Like my previous post I believe some important phenomena of identity and persistence are ignored in the arguments that it just is a fact there is no self, rather than a choice of expression. Are you saying it is a brute phenomena imposed by something that there is no self, or that you are choosing a belief to minimize suffering?

About the flavor of that sentence from my opening post. Anatta is old, it comes from Asia and is in much Eastern philosophy, and I really despise it as philosophized self-hatred based on tricky arguments. These arguments I find a foe when so much is at stake. I will amend that part of my post to remove offense though.   




« Last Edit: September 27, 2016, 09:25:32 pm by IntelligentDesire »

Offline SheepamusPrime

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Re: Anatta, anyone here?
« Reply #6 on: September 27, 2016, 08:01:40 pm »
Deleted.
« Last Edit: September 27, 2016, 08:11:24 pm by SheepamusPrime »

Offline francis

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Re: Anatta, anyone here?
« Reply #7 on: September 28, 2016, 06:14:03 am »
Thanks zafrogzen,

I thought your take on Meditation on Emptiness was excellent.

With metta :)


"Enlightenment, for a wave in the ocean, is the moment the wave realises it is water." - Thich Nhat Hanh

Offline francis

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Re: Anatta, anyone here?
« Reply #8 on: September 28, 2016, 06:20:21 am »
Hi there IntelligentDesire,

Quote
I wonder what is "hit" by the rose you smell, this contact of scent, who does it hit? What is it that prefers the immediacy of sensations to thoughts? What is hurt by the shifting and conditional regard given by others, what judges that the self must be build on that regard and judges that self to be a house of sand? What is that which worries about "crazy, self-centered thoughts", but has chosen the direction to use meditation practice to deal with these threats to your own comfort?…...........''


The answers to your questions are well described in the Nidana chain.

"Enlightenment, for a wave in the ocean, is the moment the wave realises it is water." - Thich Nhat Hanh

Offline IntelligentDesire

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Re: Anatta, anyone here?
« Reply #9 on: September 28, 2016, 07:51:47 am »
Hi there IntelligentDesire,

Quote
I wonder what is "hit" by the rose you smell, this contact of scent, who does it hit? What is it that prefers the immediacy of sensations to thoughts? What is hurt by the shifting and conditional regard given by others, what judges that the self must be build on that regard and judges that self to be a house of sand? What is that which worries about "crazy, self-centered thoughts", but has chosen the direction to use meditation practice to deal with these threats to your own comfort?…...........''

The answers to your questions are well described in the Nidana chain.

Hello Francis. Let's say I don't see how what was hit isn't me. How did a wikipedia page persuade you that you are an emptiness?

Offline zafrogzen

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Re: Anatta, anyone here?
« Reply #10 on: September 28, 2016, 09:54:43 am »
Hi I.D.,

I think turning the mind back on itself to look into these questions is the essence of meditation practice. My experience has also been that the conceptual mind is incapable of grasping the essential truth of the self. If it could there would be no liberation. But at the same time that "truth" can still be "seen" somehow when the mind is clear and open (empty).

I haven't got much time to respond this morning, but my first thoughts are questions --

Do you really see some THING, this "self" that you conceptualize, as a permanent, separate entity which can exist independently, apart from the phenomena of life and your mind and body?

When you see "contact" between a subject and object, isn't that just chopping up reality with a conceptual, mental model of something which is really one complete, immediate, indescribable experience?

 
My first formal meditation training was with Shunryu Suzuki in the 60's and later with Kobun, Robert Aitken and many other teachers (mainly zen). However, I've spent the most time practicing on my own, which is all I do now. I'm living in a rather isolated area so I miss connecting with other practitioners. Despite my interest in zen I've made an effort to remain secular. You can visit my website at http://www.frogzen.com

Offline Ron-the-Elder

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Re: Anatta, anyone here?
« Reply #11 on: September 28, 2016, 12:58:09 pm »
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InteligentDesire:  "Let's say I don't see how what was hit isn't me. How did a wikipedia page persuade you that you are an emptiness?"

Let's say you look in a box for a ball, but find none, no matter how thoroughly your search.  The box is therefore "empty" of a ball.

Let's say you examine your body to locate and identify the essence of  yourself.  Go ahead and do it now.  What body part, organ, cell, organelle, biological molecule, organic or inorganic molecule, atom, or form of force or energy did you identify, which you would call the essence of your self.

Let's say you "think" that your memory is the essence of yourself.  What happens when you get Altzheimers disease to that self?  What happens to that self when you go into surgery, are sedated with a powerful central nervous system depressant, and later die under the surgeon's knife, perhaps due to a mistake resulting from too much wine a the hospital party?  Where did it go? 

Are you one of those folks that believes that some magic part of you leaves "yourself" and migrates to heaven, or hell?  If so, what is left behind out of all that bio-electro-mechanical crap that got left behind?  Is your self somewhere in the pile that gets pyrolyzed into ash, or jammed into a box and placed under the earth?  If so, what is the thing that migrated to The Pearly Gates and has nothing to do but sing in The Angelic Choir, or help folks at Christmas Time to justify their existence? 

See the problem?  Everywhere, and every time we truly look for tha self that is so precious to you, and which causes fear to arise within you when you realize the truth of your mortality, you find nothing in the box.  Just like the ball, the box is empty of any identifiable self.

So, having realized that, go play, and do good works for others, instead of getting-off by being a troll on a Buddhist website.
What Makes an Elder? :
A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

Offline IntelligentDesire

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Re: Anatta, anyone here?
« Reply #12 on: September 28, 2016, 01:10:50 pm »
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InteligentDesire:  "Let's say I don't see how what was hit isn't me. How did a wikipedia page persuade you that you are an emptiness?"

So, having realized that, go play, and do good works for others, instead of getting-off by being a troll on a Buddhist website.

Read my second post and come back.

Offline pragmatic432

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Re: Anatta, anyone here?
« Reply #13 on: September 28, 2016, 01:48:50 pm »
Here's my take from awhile back --

http://www.frogzen.com/meditations/meditation-on-emptiness/


Read your essay, well written.

Personally I’m very much in the middle on this. I’ve been attracted to the basic truth of Buddhism since I read Alan Watts as a teenager, but I’ve never felt convinced that the traditional ways of expressing this truth work very well for many of us now, in our present circumstances.

But I admit to being a dharma dummy, the opposite of the 6th Patriarch who was enlightened by hearing a few lines of the Diamond Sutra. Even after reading the much longer Perfection of Wisdom in 8,000 lines I had to go to Nagarjuna, and especially to commentaries to finally get the explanations I needed. And even now I find the Prajnaparamita as off-putting as much as enlightening in the way it’s articulated.

Now I also admit to being sensitive to language, to words, but on that I don’t feel I need to apologize. The ultimate state of affairs being non-conceptual, all of our words should be open to the test of skilful means: do they do the job they’re intended to do, in the context, or do they create more obstacles? (Now of course some teachers may claim that creating obstacles is part of their method, but let’s bracket that for the moment.)

So to take the word “emptiness”, for me it’s simply not a useful word, in or out of meditation, in expressing or marking the non-conceptual. Of course as you know this is hardly new to the tradition, or a “Western” prejudice or rejection of the negative. In the tradition we have long had “suchness”, “thatness”, “tathagatagarbha”, “dharmakaya”, etc., all words with more positive connotations pointing not to metaphysical entities but to the same non-conceptual reality.

“Emptiness” in the strict sense of Nagarjuna is a marker of “non-inherent existence” (relativity, interdependent origination) of, well, everything. And of course “emptiness” itself as word, marker, whatever it is, must also be “empty”. So we have the emptiness of emptiness, which must leave the world of causes and conditions precisely as it is. So between samsara and nirvana there is absolutely no difference to be found, says Nagarjuna. We have the “two truths”, the conventional and the ultimate, samsara and nirvana, but in fact only one non-conceptual, non-dual reality.

So far so good, and fascinating as philosophy. But is it effective as soteriology, in all places and all times?  Again this is only my own view, but the writers of the Prajnaparamita sutras seem to me a little intoxicated with the thought of the ineffable. In their striving toward the ineffable, the non-conceptual they end up being one sided, off in the clouds. In the non-conceptual both samsara and nirvana must be fully there, as Nagarjuna maintains, however impossible that may be to put into a proposition, or even a sutra.

So I feel that there’s a deeper problem with “emptiness” than that in English the word is unpalatable and unfortunate, especially considering the vacuousness of so much of modern culture. It doesn’t fit the case as well as some other words in the tradition do, and always needs to be explained that it really doesn’t mean what we think it does. (Of course the Yogacarans long ago claimed that this turning of the wheel required explanation.)

But to return to what began this thread, not-self is of course a flash point in all of this, and again my point is that just as reality is not simply “empty” but non-conceptual, non-dual, the reality of “self” is paradoxical, ungraspable, in flux, interdependent, but in no way “non-existent”.

Yet from “anatta” in the Pali suttas to the claim in the Diamond Sutra that there are no “living beings”, the tradition leads with flat negations that require explanation, so that it takes some investigation to discover that the state of affairs is just a little more complex. (Again, maybe for some this is a good thing - this is only my view.)

In the Pali suttas the Buddha does not speak in propositions but in postulates. He does not offer a soul theory, but says it’s a mistake to even have one. He does say that the idea of some permanent substance separate from the body is incoherent; he does say that we should let go of grasping self; he does say that the self can’t be located. But he also says, in the Dhammapada and elsewhere, that we need to rely on the self as a refuge. In other words, the self is left to stand, pragmatically to be of use, but also as the paradoxical, elusive [thing] that it is, as ineffable as the rest of reality.

Similarly, as we’ve seen with Nagarjuna, the implication of non-duality leaves the self of later Buddhism in a similar paradoxical state, still standing but perhaps weirdly transparent.

Now I realize that much of the humour of Chan/Zen precisely turns on the peculiar juxtaposition of negative formulas and deeper, more complex truth. But the language, the words are still there, and I’m afraid we latter day folk may have to wrestle with them in our own ways.

Thanks again for your essay, and for affording me this opportunity to perhaps vent just a little.


Offline IntelligentDesire

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Re: Anatta, anyone here?
« Reply #14 on: September 28, 2016, 02:25:37 pm »
Posted more than once.
« Last Edit: September 28, 2016, 02:44:50 pm by IntelligentDesire »

 


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